Malling Centenary, a strawberry variety developed at NIAB EMR in Kent has hit a major milestone, after the team behind the success reported that more than 60,000,000 individual plants were sold to growers for the 2018 season.

The variety, bred at East Malling and first released in 2013, is in demand from growers and the major international retailers as it produces very high levels of quality Class I fruit and offers reduced picking costs.

Malling Centenary is the result of the work of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club, a consortium including: BerryGardens Growers Ltd, SoloBerry Ltd (formerly CPM Retail Ltd), Agriculture & Horticulture Development Board (formerly HDC), Mack Ltd and Meiosis Ltd.

Mario Caccamo, managing director of NIAB EMR said: “Named to celebrate a century of fruit science and innovation at East Malling research station, MallingTM Centenary is a fabulous tasting strawberry and a very strong performer for the growers.

“We recently passed total sales of 130 million plants and the commercial success of the variety is now helping to retain world-class science here in Kent.”

Malling Centenary is commercially protected thanks to it having Plant Variety Rights (PVR), enforceable across the EU and around the world. The PVR, effectively a patent, protects the rights of NIAB EMR as the breeder and financially supports the breeding of new varieties and research.

The variety also scores highly in independent consumer tasting trials when compared to the previous industry standard ‘Elsanta’.

Malling Centenary is the fastest selling strawberry variety handled by leading soft fruit IP management company Meiosis Ltd.

Mark Coxeter, Meiosis chief executive, said, “The growth for MallingTM Centenary is set to continue as it further establishes itself as the standard June-bearer variety in the northern hemisphere.”

Gross royalty income of nearly €1.4M will be generated for the members of the East Malling Strawberry Breeding Club, with total royalty returns to date exceeding the original investment to breed the variety.

Listed by all UK supermarkets, Malling Centenary is a favourite with strawberry growers because it yields more than 95% class 1 fruit, which is significantly higher than the previous market leader Elsanta, which can be as low as 71%.